My name is Katie. I am a program manager for a user experience team at Microsoft. I manage software features, rather than people, working with developers and testers to oversee the creation of features in our products. The program managers on my team own the user interfaces that are common across Office programs.
In my first computer science class in high school, I always found it so cool how my simple lines of code could create things. After a year of Intro to Java, I thought about my favorite Nintendo games and what the code behind them might be like. It made me realize how coding could make such cool stuff!
Before joining Microsoft, I went to Olin College in Needham, MA, where I earned a degree in engineering with a concentration in computing. Olin is a small school that prides itself in its innovative approach towards engineering education, with a heavy focus on design and entrepreneurship. I was lucky to have found a few great summer internship opportunities while at Olin, working at IBM and then at the University of Washington.
I am hard of hearing and rely primarily on lip-reading. At Microsoft my coworkers have been supportive, and they are willing to accommodate me by facing me, speaking clearly, and repeating themselves. My manager has expressed that he is excited to have me on the team and has seen my hearing impairment as a way for the team to grow and learn to be better communicators. For meetings, I’m able to schedule either remote or on-site captioning at no cost.
I still face challenges. For instance, I sometimes feel frustrated at not being able to notice or listen in on hallway chatter. I consider myself fortunate to work alongside other smart people who are working on exciting things, so I always love to soak up any information I can. Over time, people have learned to grab me if the chatter might be related to something I’m working on, so I won’t miss out.
Just looking around at all the cool things going on at my own company makes me so excited about where technology is headed in the future, and we will need people to help bring these ideas to life. If you’re interested in a career in computing, I’d recommend being aware of the computer science classes available and taking the ones that are interesting to you.